Mara Hears in Style – Terri Clemmons and Lucy Rogers

Mara Hears in Style by Terri Clemmons, Lucy Rogers
Published by Beaming Books on February 27, 2024
Genres: Children's, Children's Educational
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Mara takes on the world with her flashy purple hearing aids and sassy, hot pink earmolds.

Mara's first day at her new school is filled with ups and downs surrounding her hearing aids: her teacher doesn't remember to turn on her microphone, the lunchroom is too chaotic for lip-reading, and she keeps reading the same question over and over on her classmates' lips: "What's in her ears?" After a morning spent navigating these challenges, Mara makes a connection on the playground and finds that her hearing aid superpowers are perfect for making new friends.

Accessible and engaging, Mara Hears in Style will encourage readers to respect hearing differences and inspire kids who worry about making new friends. The book is filled with American Sign Language depictions--including a full alphabet spread--so readers can sign alongside Mara as they discover new ways to bridge communication gaps in their own communities.

Mara has new, hot pink hearing aids. She loves them, but she’s a bit nervous about what her friends will think. It’s her first day at school wearing them. Mara Hears in Style takes readers on a day in the life of children who wear hearing aids, helping readers see (and hear!) the world through their perspective.

My favorite part of the book was the way in which illustrator Lucy Rogers visually depicted voices and sounds as a visual wave. Just look at the cover image of the book and you’ll see what I mean. There’s so much communicated visually about what Mara is hearing—and not hearing—audibly. It’s a help to kids who aren’t Deaf or Hard of Hearing to understand what it is like to use hearing aids.

Mara Hears in Style is also careful not to depict hearing aids as the only solution, the best solution, or a perfect solution to being unable or having difficulty hearing without accessibility devices. When Mara is standing in the hallway of her school, we see the intermingling visual sweep of voices but Mara is unable to make out the jumbled sounds—but she is able to read lips. Later, in the cafeteria, Mara cannot make out what is being said over the loud noises. These interactions show us that hearing aids don’t work as well in overly noisy environments and help us remember when those who are hard of hearing might struggle or feel overwhelmed.

The book also shows Mara going to speech and sign language class and later teaching her friends (and thus, the reader) how to do some simple signs like “no,” “yes,” “hello,” and “goodbye.” At the end of the book, there’s a couple of panels depicting the whole ASL alphabet so readers can learn to finger spell.

Mara Hears in Style is a perfect blend of showing and being seen. Readers who use hearing aids will find comfort and solidarity in seeing a character in a book who is like them. Readers who do not will be able to better empathize and learn about what it means to use hearing aids. It can also teach children who use hearing aids how to explain their use to other kids. “They help me hear like your glasses help you see” is a perfect phrase that allows readers to identify hearing aids with a more common accessibility device. Author Terri Clemmons is both uses hearing aids herself and is the parent of children who wear hearing aids—along with being an elementary school teacher. All of those things come together perfectly and make her, and this book, the perfect educational tool.